Behind a few surprise freshman performances and a furious second quarter run, the #23 USF women’s basketball team cruised past the ECU Pirates 88-47 on Wednesday night at the Sun Dome. The Bulls improved to 9-1 at home this season and have won four straight games.
“It was great to be back at home,” head coach Jose Fernandez said. “I’m pleased how we shot the ball, I don’t think we’ve shot the ball like that in a long, long time. But now, we have to move forward and prepare for a big game this weekend.”
In a fast-paced first quarter, both teams went back-and-forth before a Laura Ferreira layup pushed the Bulls lead to 18-13.
Ferreira finished with 16 points, and was 2-for-3 from behind the arc in 29 minutes. She also chipped in eight rebounds.
Point guard Laia Flores filled the stat sheet with nine point, six assists and a team-high nine rebounds.
USF (19-5, 9-2 AAC) held a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and outrebounded ECU 15-6 in the opening frame. The Bulls have dominated the glass during their four game winning streak, grabbing 50+ rebounds in the previous three games and 49 total on Wednesday night.
An 8-0 run in the second quarter, sparked by consecutive three-balls from Alba Prieto and Kitija Laksa, pushed the Bulls lead to 35-19 midway through the frame.
Laksa, despite her recent struggles, led all scorers with 25 points and was 5-for-11 from three-point range in 37 minutes.
Prieto, a freshman, provided plenty of secondary scoring for the Bulls with a career-high 13 points and going 3-for-4 from three.
“We really appreciated being home in front of our fans,” Prieto said. “I think I had a different energy and the team was encouraging me to take more shots.”
USF led 43-25 at the break and shot 55% from three-point range in the second quarter.
The game was never close in the second half as the Bulls outscored the Pirates 18-9 in the third quarter to take a commanding 61-34 end of quarter lead.
Another freshman, Vanessa Blagmon, played 14 minutes and scored a career-high 11 points in the win.
“Both of them (Prieto/Blagmon) are going to have really nice careers here,” Fernandez added. “They’ve stayed with the process... and when they got opportunities tonight, they played really well.”
USF finished the game shooting 53% from the floor and 50% (14-for-28) from three-point range. The Bulls led by as much as 43 and never trailed.
USF returns to the Sun Dome for a big game against ranked Big-Ten opponent Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a huge RPI and strength of schedule game for us,” Fernandez said. “I think it’s an important game for both teams.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.